By Colleen S. Good
Times West Virginian
Marion County’s Meet Your Candidates Primary Public Forum was held Wednesday at Westchester Village.
Rev. D.D. Meighen, director of Marion County TV-19, where the event will later be broadcast, said that this was the ninth forum for either primary or general elections held since 2006.
“We had 50 percent participation from all of our people who were running in contested primaries,” Meighen said.
Meighen said that there are 39 uncontested candidates this primary. There are 20 contested seats and three levies this primary, Meighen said.
He said they were disappointed that none of the candidates for retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s seat came to speak at the forum this year.
“That was disappointing. This is the first time we’ve not had that,” Meighen said. He noted that Shelley Moore Capito sent a letter to be read, and Natalie Tennant called to express her regrets.
There will be another Meet the Candidates forum for the general election in November.
Candidates at Wednesday’s forum had three minutes to speak on their platforms and two minutes to respond to any questions from the forum’s three panelists, Rev. Larry Collins, Wade Linger and Dora Kay Grubb.
“Our panelists were very good,” Meighen said.
Linger is a former chairman of the chamber of commerce, and former president of the West Virginia State Board of Education. Grubb is president of the Marion County Historical Society and has also been a social worker for many years. Collins, the final panelist, has a law degree, practiced law at the Attorney General’s Office in Cleveland, Ohio, served churches in many states, and has experience as a businessman.
Meighen said that the event was a great opportunity for residents.
“Basically, we don’t pay too much attention all of the time about what is being said or who is saying what. In Marion County, we like to at least have the people be exposed to what the candidates are thinking so they can make an informed decision,” Meighen said.
Meighen said the event took a great deal of planning.
“I had a lot of help,” Meighen said. “I was very blessed to have the chamber of commerce. They were able to send out all of the letters about the event and answer any questions. They were also in the meet-and-greet room at the candidate forum. After a candidate spoke, they could have refreshments and talk to anyone who wanted to ask any questions.”
Tina Shaw, Marion County Chamber of Commerce president, said that the event is very important to the community.
“I think the voters of Marion County need to meet the candidates, and hear their platforms, and actually listen to how they answer the questions from the panelists so that they’re better informed when they go to the polls,” Shaw said.
Shaw said that the chamber of commerce has been sponsoring this event for several years.
Other sponsors included the Marion County Historical Society, the Communities of Shalom, the NAACP, the Council of Churches and TV-19.
Meighen said that the Episcopal Church’s discretionary fund also helped underwrite the event.
The Meet the Candidates Primary Public Forum will be available for the public to view every day for the entire month of April on the TV-19 public access channel with Time Warner Cable. TV-19 is currently awaiting funds from Time Warner Cable to repair the station. If TV19 is unable to broadcast, the forum will still be available online at the scheduled time on their website at http://gfcc.peg.tv.
Email Colleen S. Good at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @CSGoodTWV.